STILLWATER — Marcus Smart started trending on Twitter about 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
And the social media world was in full catch-up mode.
Smart had long been trending — and treading — on No. 11-ranked Memphis, piling up points and pulling crazy love from the ESPN crew calling the game and from analysts all across America, impressing a courtside Kevin Durant and endearing himself further to an estimated crowd of 12,000 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
No. 7 Cowboys 101, Tigers 80.
As Oklahoma State legend Eddie Sutton headed for the exit, he paused near the press table, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted: “I could coach this team,” referencing these Cowboys' passion and grit and toughness.
And this team is clearly molded in the image of one man: Marcus Smart.
Smart scored 10 of the Cowboys' first 12 points, had 26 by halftime and finished with a career-high 39 — and much more, including no small amount of swagger — as OSU turned an anticipated major matchup into a massive mismatch.
“When he scores like that, he could be the best player in college basketball,” said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. “Today, he was awesome.
“He's really, really good. Tonight he was tremendous.”
Smart took it to Memphis from the outset, with an aggression that not only fueled his early outburst, but allowed his teammates to relax and join in the fun.
With the Tigers leading 4-2, Smart scored 12 straight points in a variety of ways — a driving, spinning layup; a four-point play; a follow of his own miss; a lay-in; and a dunk.
And he was just getting started.
At the 7:17 mark of the first half, Smart had 24 points.
Memphis had 22.
And the Cowboys led 35-22.
According to one ESPN stat, Smart's 26 points at intermission were more than 10 Division I teams had in their first halves Tuesday night.
“I knew when I let go of my first (3-pointer) and it went in, with a foul, it was going to be a good night,” Smart said. “I was just feeling it tonight.”
Smart had that feeling even before the game began.
“It was just something in me,” he said. “Before the game, I went into a zone where I just told myself, ‘Whatever I can do to help this team win. I'm not going to let the team down tonight.' I just came out real aggressive.”
Smart's teammates sensed it, too.
“We kind of came together as a team and said, ‘We've got to get him the ball more,'” said Brian Williams, who contributed 15 points and eight rebounds. “Especially if he's hot like that. He's been doing that all offseason, all summer. We just haven't seen it in the first couple of games. It came out tonight.”
Smart cooled off, by his own scorching early standards. Still, the Cowboys kept building their lead on a Memphis team that never got going.
Markel Brown added 20 points and three blocked shots. Le'Bryan Nash grabbed a game-high 10 boards. Michael Cobbins had eight points and Stevie Clark added nine off the bench, which was short with Phil Forte limited to four minutes due to a stomach bug.
“This was a total team effort,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “Obviously, Marcus stood out early and did some great things in this game and he showed why he's the best player in the country. We had so many great performances.”
And one performance beyond that.
Smart's scoring effort tied the sophomore school record previously set by Matt Clark in 1980. And the 39 points ranks as one of the top-10 scoring performances in program history.
He made 11 of 21 shots from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range, and went 12 of 16 from the foul line. And he added five steals, four assists, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
And as the night continued on, and Smart continued to do his thing, the superlatives showered in over the airwaves and across Twitter.
Smart took heat for coming back to college and foregoing the NBA last spring, with many suggesting he made a mistake by waiting, with a deep and talented freshman class coming up.
Those criticisms have since faded, after his summer play for the United States in international competition and his play against NBA stars in the Las Vegas camp.
Dick Vitale, via Twitter Tuesday night: “Marcus Smart sending message to Diaper Dandies that he is the most complete offensive package in USA — he is dominant vs. tough Memphis team.”
In their first major test of this season, Smart and the Cowboys seized the stage.
“This was a big game for us,” Smart said. “Everybody was watching. Everybody sees what Oklahoma State can do. They know what kind of team we are.”